Continuing the link roundup format I started using last week, here are three more excellent GMing links:
Obsidian Portal: This new site is designed to help groups manage their tabletop campaigns, and it has an interesting focus: “Rather than trying to automate the playing of the game, Obsidian Portal provides tools to help facilitate the storytelling.” Here’s a sample of what a campaign being managed on OP looks like: Arkanapolis, which features an adventure log, a wiki and an NPC tracker, along with the community aspect of sharing ideas and resources with other groups. Obsidian Portal is nicely executed, and holds a lot of promise.
Don’t Roll, Think: In this ars ludi post, Ben Robbins proposes ditching spot checks in non-combat situations, and having your players ask for more details based on your descriptions, instead. It’s an interesting perspective, but while I think over-reliance on die rolls can be a problem, spot checks (and other “Did I notice anything?”-type rolls) are a good thing in my book. On not concealing adventure-critical information behind spot checks, though, I couldn’t agree more. Check it out and see what you think.
It’s About The Character, Not The Player – Serving Up Characterization Encounters, Part 1: This Roleplaying Tips article by Johnn Four offers a wealth of good player-oriented advice on sussing out PC motives, provoking tough choices, developing character backgrounds during play (my favorite section), the distinction between acting and representation (which was a light bulb moment for me) and more.
The article’s title doesn’t really do it justice — it’s essentially a grab-bag of tricks and tools for encouraging your players to think more about their characters, which is a foundation-level topic for GMs. Even if your players do this already, there are tips you might find useful — and if you’re new to GMing, or your group is heading away from a hack-and-slash style where PCs are just combat stats, this article makes a great starting point. If Johnn writes another GMing book (his first was GM Mastery: NPC Essentials), I hope he includes this article in it.